There are some promises you just can’t keep. For John Calipari, that seemed to be the use of a zone defense.
For most of Coach Cal’s career, he’s won with tough-nosed, man-to-man defense, so there’s never really been a reason to change course. He’d talked about using a zone with this lengthy team and even teased it by using it in a couple of games, but he had never really gone to it with the outcome on the line.
Struggling to slow Missouri’s high-scoring back court, Calipari added a much-needed wrinkle to his defense on Saturday with a 2-3 zone. It turned out to be just what the doctor ordered in Kentucky’s 84-79 victory over Missouri, temporarily slowing down Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson late in the first half and allowing UK to build a 10-point halftime lead.